Halina Kowalski has served as the Eagala Military Services Director since 2018 and was the former Eagala Military Task Force Chair from 2015-2018. Halina is a clinician-researcher at the VA Portland Health Care System where she has worked for since 2009, specializing in PTSD and TBI treatment outcome research and clinical practice. She is a marriage and family therapist by training and a Licensed Professional Counselor with the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists. Halina is a clinical research expert in the study of equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP), with particular emphasis on its applications within a trauma framework. She maintains certification as an EAP mental health professional through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) and also holds the special designation as an EAGALA Military Services Program for specialized knowledge and training in working clinically with military populations. Halina’s work as the EAGALA Military Director focuses on creating and promoting rigorous cultural and clinical competence standards for EAP work with Military populations as well as in developing and coordinating grant and other funding mechanisms as well as robust program evaluation/data collection projects for EAGALA’s National Network of Military Services Programs with the goal of working toward a more sustainable, widely accepted, and appropriately fiscally supported future for Eagala Military Services. To date, Halina has successfully procured, led and managed four annual VA Adaptive Sports Grant Awards for Eagala totaling over 1.6 million dollars. Halina graduated with her masters in counseling, marriage and family therapy in 2009 and has worked within the Veterans Administration since 2008.

Halina began her career at the VA by providing couple and family counseling to Veterans and their spouses and family members affected by Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and post-deployment readjustment difficulty. She has developed curriculum within VA for PTSD Family Education Groups and has facilitated countless therapeutic and educational groups aimed at assisting Veterans and their families adjust to civilian life after combat and deployment. Concurrent with her clinical work, Halina has extensive experience as a clinical researcher focusing on the study of novel treatments for the psychological effects of war including PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Halina has extensive experience procuring grants and managing all aspects of multisite randomized controlled clinical trials within the VA, with a focus on animal-assisted therapy for PTSD. Among many other studies she has Co-Investigated, formerly she was the Site Study Coordinator for a congressionally mandated multisite VA clinical trial investigating the role of service dogs and emotional support dogs in the treatment of Veterans with PTSD, “Can Service Dogs Improve Activity and Quality of Life in Veterans with PTSD?”. Over several years at the VA, Halina led a collaboration of VA colleagues toward developing a program of research investigating a manualized version of EAGALA based equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) for use with Veterans toward the goal of seeing EAP become a widely available evidence-based practice within VA which is her primary research interest and goal.

Halina maintains a personal mindfulness and yoga practice and has experience and training in healing energy work as well as indigenous ways of healing including earth and animal wisdom and medicine which she continues to pursue in both personal and professional study. She often incorporates these integrative healing practices into her EAP clinical work.